How to increase your emotional self-awareness

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wander and stand and rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed” ~ Albert Einstein. Emotional self-awareness is the building block of all competences mentioned in Daniel Goleman’s model of intelligence, published in 1995. Every day, that you wake up you need to recognise what you are feeling in order to move to the next competence level. Self-awareness has three skills, emotional self-awareness; accurate self-awareness and self-confidence. It is very interesting to note that most of us are not very much aware of our emotions.

When we are not aware of our feelings and the causes of them, leading a happy and productive life is difficult if not almost impossible. Yes, there may be signs of success such as prestige, money or career success. But to be truly happy, we must be able to determine what really makes us feel good and what makes us feel bad. We cannot be truly happy and productive until we are aware of our feelings and what causes them. The knowledge of our emotional self-awareness is the driving force for our actions. When you develop your level of emotional self-awareness, you are able to specifically decipher how you are feeling at any given moment. This will help you resolve and know the basis and source of your current feelings. You will also know how your body is reacting.

I know that becoming aware of your emotions takes practice. If you practice the ability to note what you are feeling will increase with time. I have here outlined a few ways in which you can increase your emotional self-awareness.

Checking yourself
The first thing to increasing your emotional self-awareness is to learn how to check yourself. To begin checking your emotions you will need to make time for doing so. You need to also know the different kinds of emotions or feelings. You also need to be aware that most of if not all emotions are as result of external stimuli. Our emotions are our body’s reaction to certain condition that we have encountered. I personally do an emotional check in the morning and late in the evening before going to bed this is besides the monitoring as and when they occur. I have developed a skill to quickly monitor my body’s emotions at a particular time in a given situation. But when you first start I suggest you schedule it 3 times a day, that is morning, afternoon and evening. It may seem cumbersome in the initial stages but as time goes on you will realise that you will be able to call the skill anytime you feel a strong or distressing or strange feeling. I believe that happiness can only be achieved by identifying those feelings that make us feel happy and replacing sad feelings with happy ones. Here is how you can check yourself. Sit down quietly, if possible close your eyes, ask yourself the following questions and please ensure that you answer them honestly. Remember there is no right or wrong answer you are not competing with anyone.

  • How am I feeling?
  • What am I feeling?
  • Why am I feeling like this?
  • How long have I been feeling like this?
  • Where is the feeling manifesting itself in the body?

Pay attention to your body language. Some stressing or strong emotions may cause symptoms such as headaches, stomach-ache’s and just general body aches. Negative emotions are a health hazard. Learning to check yourself is the key to actually knowing how to handle your emotions. Checking your self will also give you an accurate idea of how to handle and control your emotions. Sometimes, especially when we are angry we tend to react on impulse. If you learn how to handle your anger you will never find yourself in regretting situation.

Write down your feelings
Once you are aware about your emotional self-awareness you then need to write them down. I believe there is power in writing. After you have listed them down review them. Investigate what triggered them. As you get better at knowing your feeling you can label them whatever you want. Know also that not all feelings are negative. I know for sure that most of us will not pay attention to positive feelings but it is also important to have a clear understanding of what the source for these emotions is. This knowledge will come in handy when you want to start isolating and handling your emotions correctly.

To help with identifying the triggers of your emotions ask yourself the following questions and be sure to be very sincere with your answers. Remember you are not competing with anyone and that your reaction will strongly depend upon the answers to the following questions.

  • When did the feeling start?
  • What was I doing or rather what was happening when it started?
  • Has the strength of the emotion changed if so how has it changed?
  • How often has this happened

The above questions are best answered if you have a tendency to plan your daily activities. I would encourage you to develop among other habits of planning your daily activities. This puts you in total control of your time management and also helps you increase your emotional self-awareness. If you are in the habit of daily activity planning you may not even realise that you have your emotional self-awareness under control.

The whole idea of writing down your emotions is to get to the root cause of the feeling. Most of the times we tend to cure the symptom rather than cure the root cause. You see if you know why you are feeling in a certain way it is then possible to try and resolve the cause rather than pretend it did not happen. Finding out the root cause of the negative feeling does not necessarily mean you are accepting it; no you are merely trying to find a better solution. This brings us to the importance of noting down both positive and negative emotions. If the cause is resolvable you would have also resolved the bad or negative feeling.

Learn to detect your emotion as they happen. Most of the time, our emotions are communicating something to us. You need to take extra caution and pay attention to your emotion as they occur. This though does not come over night but with gradual practice and learning to live consciously you will be in touch with your emotions and know yourself a lot better. Remember that we sometimes feel more than one emotion at a time but each one of the present’s information that we can learn more about ourselves. Personal development is achieved when we learn more about ourselves and improve on our weaknesses.

Preparing your emotions
As you continue to build on your emotional self-awareness in the present you will learn to identify the triggers or situations and circumstances that lead to certain feelings. Remember it is the skill of knowing what the cause is that will reveal how to handle or avert similar situations that trigger negative emotions. I know for sure that most of us would like to have only positive emotions. Unfortunately this is not the case in life. Life is full of challenges that need to be overcome. It is these challenges that trigger different emotions and reactions that each and every one of us needs to be prepared for.

Learning to prepare your emotions for an event can help boost your self-confidence among other benefits of having to control yourself better. If we know how to handle our emotions we certainly have a better chance of handling failure very well and moving forward. The emotion of frustration is the one driving force to failure. If you are doing a project you seem not to be getting the desired results at the first few attempts you may begin to feel frustrated. It the way you handle this emotion of frustration that will determine your way forward. If handled negatively you are doomed to fail but if handled positively success is in the air for you.

There are many instances that require us to prepare emotions for the future. A typical example is when you are going to see your boss say over a disciplinary case or in meeting where you are called to make a presentation. You will need to have your emotions under control in order to achieve the desired results especially if you are in marketing. The benefits of knowing and preparing your emotions for the future cannot be over emphasised. You need to learn the skill of preparing your emotional self-awareness for greater personal development. Self-growth requires that you have greater control of yourself and emotional self-awareness is part of the greater picture.

Conclusion
“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance” ~ Brian Tracy. Increasing your emotional self-awareness helps us learn and know more about ourselves. Before I close I would like to emphasise that on the importance to note that we can feel different emotions ate the same time and even to feel as if some of them are conflicting. But, always remember that every emotion you feel is for a reason. Success requires that you know and understand yourself very well, this starts with knowing your emotions above all “standout tall and be counted”.

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